The MBA in Supply Chain Management
A Project Manager is responsible for large transitions related to supply chain management. One example of these transitions is a plant shutdown. A company may decide that it is more cost-effective to stop manufacturing their products themselves, and instead have a vendor do it for them. The management of a plant shutdown project requires cross-functional teamwork between accounting (working out the costs), engineering (helping the vendors get up and running), human resources (laying off the production workers), and manufacturing (managing the inventory to make a seamless transition). Another example of a transition is a large scale vendor change. A company may have a contract manufacturer in Mexico making its products. In an effort to reduce costs, the company may want to partner with a contract manufacturer in Vietnam instead. Making this transition can be even harder than a plant shutdown, because the existing supplier may become bitter and refuse to cooperate. Most often, these transitions are done without notifying the existing supplier until the new supplier is running at the required capacity.
A Director of Materials is responsible for the strategy of the purchasing group. He does not get involved in the details of the day-to-day operations of the supply chain management department, but will assume the reins when issues get out of control or need upper-management attention. A Director of Materials also sets the practices of his departments and approves large dollar item purchases. Similarly, the Director of Materials participates in vendor relationship management for the suppliers with whom the company spends the most money. In addition to providing strategic direction to the purchasing group, the Director of Materials spends significant time meeting with the other executives in the company, sharing expertise, championing causes, and staying abreast of issues facing the company. A Director of Materials also spends a lot of time networking with people outside of the company (i.e. industry experts, competitors, and prospective vendors).